With every generation, the U.S. population moves further away from the Civil Rights movement. While they may have read quotes from Martin Luther King Jr. and other prominent black figures, they do not truly understand the depth of the time. Katie Bodell writes in the Trekaroo blog about the importance of teaching our children about this landmark fight for equality:
“The American Civil Rights Movement is important to impress on our children, not because it was something phenomenally important that happened in our past, long before our kids were born, but because racism and its terrible effects continue to plague our society. Although we have made strides, as a nation we are still haunted with an elusive dream of equality. From class disparity to immigration laws, to social inequality and even open and often un-prosecuted racism, we still have a long way to go.”
As a parent, consider following these tips to go beyond your child’s speedy school history lessons when talking about Civil Rights.
- Select A Black-Made Documentary: If you are choosing to show your child a documentary or film about Civil Rights, try to select one that was crated by a black filmmaker.
This will not only support a black artist’s work, but will also prevent your child from learning about Civil Rights through an exclusively white lens.
- Listen To Famous Recordings: There is nothing quite like hearing the exact words that were said during that powerful time. Listen to Martin Luther King Junior as well as the speeches of other activists and governmental figures. Talk about the true meaning of these speeches and allow your child to ask questions.
- Learn About Female Activists: Remember that while many of the famous speeches and writings taught in history books were made by men, there were some powerful women involved in Civil Rights that your child should know about. Dorothy Height and Diane Nash, for example, were just two of the incredible women pioneering this time.
- Visit Museums And Historic Sites: If you are able to, consider taking your child to Washington D.C. to stand on the exact spot where the famous MLK speech actually happened in front of 15,000 to 30,000 people. While there, you can also take them to the National Museum Of African American History And Culture.
Remember that every child processes significant historical and cultural information differently. You may need to answer questions or allow your child to choose their own method of learning. Regardless of the method, you are providing an important education to your child. While they might not realize it, this important history impacts their life today.